PHOENIX -- A special legislative session called by Gov. Jan Brewer to pass a Republican lawmaker’s bill will push Arizona’s budget further into the red and still leave thousands of disabled and foster children without adequate education and necessary services.
"With only 21 working days left before the end of the fiscal year, we are running out of time to pass a fair budget," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). "It's unacceptable GOP leaders are wasting our time on a narrow special-interest bill that ignores most disabled kids and would worsen our deficit, rather than working cooperatively to pass a decent budget and trying to solve the financial crash threatening Arizona."
If passed, HB 2001 will cost Arizona taxpayers $5 million by establishing new corporate tax giveaways for contributions to a private School Tuition Organization (STO) for 375 students.
“We’re going in the wrong direction and adding more to Arizona taxpayers’ tab in tough economic times,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “If Republican lawmakers wanted to help disabled and foster children, they could have chosen to not cut their funding in the 2009 budget and they could support a comprehensive solution that includes these children.”
In the 2009 budget cuts, Republican lawmakers slashed $91 million in funding for up to 18,000 disabled or foster children attending Arizona schools.
“House Democrats want to make sure that parents have a choice and that all of Arizona’s children receive the education and programs they need,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “The state already has an STO program to ensure that.”
The state’s existing STO program provides a tax credit for corporate and individual contributions to an STO that awards scholarships. No new legislation is needed to do this.
“Just a month remains to solve the state’s $3 billion budget crisis and Brewer and Republican lawmakers still have yet to come up with anything more than an outline or an unrealistic budget, but we are spending a week on a special session that only digs the budget hole even deeper,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “It’s time for real leadership.”
- adapted from House Dems PIO